A water-borne blight hits a remote community on a small island on the edge of the Northern Atlantic. The islanders are a strange mix, some island-born, some seeking a slower life away from the modern world. All have their own secrets, some much darker than others. Rumour says the illness may be a water-borne neural infection from the shellfish farm, a case of mass hysteria – or even a long-buried curse – but when ferry service fails, inconvenience grows into nightmarish ordeal as the outwardly harmonious fabric of the community is unnervingly torn apart.
A haunting, suspenseful tale of isolation and dread within a small island community -from the author of A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World, perfect for fans of The Loney and Station Eleven.
Hi and welcome to my review of Dead Water!
I absolutely adored A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by this author, so the second I heard of Dead Water, I knew I had to read it.
I added the blurb to this review because I always add the blurb, but I do feel it sort of misrepresents Dead Water. If you’ve been looking at reviews for this book, you may have noticed some lower ratings, mostly by readers who were waiting for all the stuff in the blurb to happen and felt it took too long to get there.
They’re not wrong, Dead Water does take its time setting the scene on this remote Scottish island, allowing its reader to get acquainted with its main characters by alternating points of view. So if you’re a reader who wants to be thrown in the deep end without any sort of warning, this is not that kind of story, it’s far more insidious than that.
I know they’re big shoes to fill but I’m going there anyway: as far as build-up and atmosphere go, Dead Water could have been written by Stephen King. We’ve all read at least one King novel that made us think: well that could have been a lot shorter. Should it have been, though, would we change it if we could? Of course we wouldn’t, it’s that build-up of suspense that makes the action that follows hit us even harder. You watch the clouds gather, hear the distant rumble, and wait for the storm to hit.
Dead Water is an understated, atmospheric, psychological kind of horror novel. If you’re in it for the gore and/or in-your-face horror elements, odds are this won’t be your cup of tea. However, that doesn’t mean there is no action. The pace increases along the way and in the second half there are quite a few on-the-edge-of-your-seat scenes that had me clasping my e-reader in suspense.
I had a great time with Dead Water. While I do enjoy a bookish gore fest from time to time, I also very much appreciate a more slow-burning and subtle horror novel and Dead Water is an excellent example of the latter. I won’t go into details concerning the plot, I went in with little information and few expectations because I honestly didn’t know what to expect, and it worked out brilliantly for me.
For readers who enjoyed A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World and are hoping for more of the same, I can only say that they do share that dystopian feel, but they are completely different books. I, for one, can’t wait to find out where C.A. Fletcher will take me next, but wherever he goes, this reader will follow.
Dead Water is out on 19 July in digital forms and on 21 July in hardcover and audio.
Many thanks to Orbit and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.